Researchers create harness that translates body language of dogs

The researchers said the canine communication harness could have practical applications for guide dogs and search-and-rescue operations.
By Ben Hooper  |  Oct. 31, 2014 at 3:12 PM
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RALEIGH, N.C., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- North Carolina researchers said they have created a dog harness outfitted with technology designed to ease interspecies communication with canines.

The North Carolina State University team said the harness includes technologies aimed at interpreting the body language signals used by dogs, as well as technologies designed to translate human language into signals the dogs will understand.

"We have a fully functional prototype, but we'll be refining the design as we explore more and more applications for the platform," said Dr. David Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at the school and co-author of a paper on the team's work.

The harness also bears temperature and heart-rate sensors that can give users information about the dog's emotional state, which can be useful in analyzing the stress levels of guide dogs and other service animals.

"This can help handlers identify and mitigate stress for the dogs, improving the length and quality of a dog's life," said Sean Mealin, a Ph.D. student and co-author of the paper. "It's an important issue. Particularly because guide dogs are bred and trained not to display signs of stress in their behavior."

The team said the technology could also have applications for search-and-rescue dogs with additional sensors to detect environmental factors such as gas leaks.

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